I am by no means an expert, those exist I'm sure, but I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and things I learned from my two trips to BEA. If this is your first time and you have questions hopefully this will answer some of them. Or if you are thinking about going then maybe this will encourage you. It really is a fantastic couple days full of books, authors, and fun. If you get the chance to go I would absolutely take advantage of it.
Also this is the podcast discussion topic so if you would rather listen to my tips, yeah, you can! Britt and I welcomed special guest Michelle from Pink Polka Dot books so you get tons of tips and different perspectives on things which is really cool.
And in the interest of being inclusive and all-encompassing, I thought I would also do some longer discussions on some of my tips and add a few I left off. My first year I did a getting to know you post so people can recognize me and say hi so I'll leave that HERE and I did another tip post last year if you want to check that out HERE. Also of note for people may be my wrap up posts which talk about what I did when. Imma overload you with information because that's what I like because I'm INTJ so here you go, 2014 BEA Wrap Up and 2015 BEA Wrap Up. But anyway, tips.
1.) Own the awkward.
|Me fangirling to Ernest Cline|
And as far as authors go, they are people too and often super sweet. Tell them you love their books, tell them you're excited to read them. The first year I talked to Lauren Oliver about Caspar and last year I told Leigh Bardugo I had to read her books in my bathtub because "that's my safe zone." I fangirled so hard with Ernest Cline about how much I loved Ready Player One. Did they think I was weird? Probably. But you know what, I remember those interactions and they were great.
2.) Take care of yourself.
It’s a long day and you are on your feet for most of it. Sit down whenever you can, long lines are a great place to relax or just find a corner away from everything to recharge. Also drink lots of water, bring a bottle and fill it often. My first year I was bad at that and after the first day I was exhausted and it was mostly dehydration I think. And bring high protein snacks. You’ll be starving and will either not be able to get away for lunch or not want to spend the $20 on a sandwich at the cafeteria. But seriously, I know you are going to want to do as much as possible but you need to sometimes say no so that you can eat a relaxing lunch and drink a ton of water. You and your well-being should come first not getting one more book.
3.) Hang out afterwards
|I hung out with these awesome nerds!|
4.) Plan a lot in advance but be ready to throw it all out the window when you get there.
I’m kind of a crazy planner, a thing I'm realizing as I talk to other people about how they prepare for BEA. But I like being super prepared, like overly prepared. I want to know exactly where I’m going from moment to moment. And that’s because nothing will go according to plan and this way at least I have the basics of one. I spend a good month putting together my color-coded spreadsheet based on what I want to do and when all the signings I'm excited about happen. Then I get there every morning, review my schedule, and change plans.
You really have to be super flexible. But that's mostly because things will go to shit very quickly. You'll look at your schedule and realize everything is at the same time and then there will be all kinds of unexpected things like galley drops, in-booth signings you didn’t know about, or super long lines that take up a lot of time. It’s good to make a super specific schedule but it’s going to all fall apart and that’s fine. Just be as prepared as you can be and then when you get there, wing it.
5.) Prioritize and be selective.
|The books I got last year, much less.|
My first year I ended up with like 75 books and I only read like 20 of them. My second year I took home 45 books, more than I wanted, but I read 30 of them so I feel like it was much better ratio. That year I was more selective and didn't just take books because I could. It's not a loss if you don't get everything and anything. You'll feel less overwhelmed if you are more selective.
6.) Get in line early.
|What's this line for?|
But keep in mind, if you are hell bent on meeting that author then get there really early and ask around for where the line is then park yourself in it and hunker down. And don't be one of those people who gets there late and then tries to cut. Saving a place for your friend who is in the bathroom or hitting up a galley drop is fine but be conscientious about it.
7.) Dress for comfort but business casual
This is more of a conference and less of a convention. If you're going to BookCon and want to bust out your fandom t-shirt that's cool but at BEA it's more like what you would wear to the office. This doesn't mean you have to go all out professional just dresses, nice pants, etc. Business casual. Bring layers for one thing. The temperature is so variable this time of year so it's good to have an extra cardigan or something. But that being said dress for comfort. You will be on your feet all day and sitting on the floor when you're not. Nice pants or a dark denim with a nice shirt is totally okay. Also footwear is super important. Comfortable shoes is the key to success. So wearing sneaking is definitely advised. Seriously don't be embarrassed about wearing sneakers with your dress you will be glad you did.
8.) Get the galley drop schedules and wander the floor first thing.
For one thing a lot of galley drops, these are unsigned ARCs that you can take, happen first thing in the morning. I like visiting the major publishers right when the doors open. Plus that's a good time to collect their schedule of galley drops. Most publishers don't announce in advance when they are dropping books but you can either get a printed schedule for that day or they'll post their schedules so you can take a picture of it. The show daily, a magazine that comes out every day, is also a good place to look for daily galley drop schedules. Grab one on your way in and scan it while you're waiting in line. Galley drops are great because if you get a book you really want it can free up your schedule for signings.
9.) Bring a wheeled suitcase not tote bags.
Remember what I said about it being the place for line lovers. Well BEA is also heaven for tote bags. Every publisher, every day is giving out a free tote bag. You can go nuts collecting them all like Pokemon. Or just like pick your favorites and use those. I usually had one big one I would use and then if it got full I would empty it and go back for more. That's where your wheeled suitcase comes in. You'll get a lot of books so it's nice to have an easy way to transport them back and forth to the hotel. At the Javits you could check a bag for a few bucks and I'm guessing McCormick is the same. It's worth the price at the end of the day.
10.) Get a Reader Pass
This is the best kept secret at BEA. If you can spring for the extra $55 let me tell you, it is totally worth it. This is an additional pass that offer insurance on your signed books but more importantly it gives you a one-time use front of the line pass. What this means is that you can go to the beginning of the line without waiting. It's like the FastPass at Disney. It basically means that you can go ahead of everyone without waiting. Which is great because of everything I already said about lines and things being at the same time. It may seem like a pretty penny just to skip one line but i'm telling you, it's worth it. Not only are you assured that you get that one must have book but it also relieves a lot of stress. I used mine last year for Leigh Bardugo and it was fantastic. I got some side-eyes from people who waited but I regret nothing. These passes don't sell out and anyone can get one. GET ONE!
And that's all I got. But that's a lot, honestly probably too much but I figure maybe I'll overwhelm you now so when you get there it's easy. So now the question is, who else is going to BEA? I seriously want to meet people. I'll be there all three days of BEA, but not BookCon, so if you are there and you see me come say hi. Or tell me you're coming so I can be on the lookout for you. My favorite thing about BEA is meeting the people, people I know from Twitter and their blogs, or even just strangers so I can find new blogs. So say hi. Even if you see me in a big group. Don't be intimidated by those ladies, they're nice.
Okay, I should stop babbling. We'll babble together at BEA. Yes? Yes. Are you coming to BEA? Do you have any tips? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!